Do you think it's time for Florida to adopt a new state song?
For the record, our "official'' song is the 1851 Stephen Foster standard "Swanee River (Old Folks at Home),'' which was adopted in 1935.
Written by a great American musical storyteller and commemorating a river (actually, the Suwannee) that flows across Florida to the Gulf of Mexico, it's a song about yearning for your beloved home. I always assumed that Foster must have known the river and its people to have captured the dreamy sentiment so well.
Apparently Foster never even visited Florida, which shouldn't disqualify "Swanee River'' as the state song. However, folks have complained for years about the southern black dialect Foster used for lyrics. Specifically, the song contains a reference to "darkeys'' which many find racially offensive.
Now a movement is under way — again — to replace "Swanee River'' with a new state song. The Florida Music Educators' Association is leading the search, and more than 100 entries have been received. (Details are available at justsingflorida.com)
And, as education reporter Sylvia Lim wrote in today's Herald, our own Rowlett Elementary boys choir has submitted a version of the song with new lyrics written by music teacher Dave Walters.
There's no harm in having some musical fun. If Foster were alive he might even submit a new song himself for consideration. But no doubt there are much bigger decisions facing Florida's future, so we hope the Legislature doesn't get all hog-tied on this in the next session.
Anybody for Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville''?